Brandon Palaniuk has been steady throughout the first 3 days of this event. He started the event in 2nd with 24-7, backed it up with 23-2 on Day 2 and pulled ahead by 2 ounces because of his 24-7 bag on Day 3. Palaniuk has primarily fished off-shore. If you remember the epic photo gallery of his Day 3, his 24-7 bag could've been even bigger but losing a bonafide giant didn't help his cause. He seems to be on a school that has the big ones needed to possibly win this event. He is in a two-horse race with Brent Ehrler although anything can happen on Sam Rayburn for the other 10 anglers. He hasn't had the best signal for Bassmaster LIVE, but we do have camera's with him.
Brent Ehrler has been one of the stars on Bassmaster LIVE as we've watched his flurries with both a jerkbait and a vibrating jig. He has targeted what seems like the ditches where the hydrilla funnels to the back of the pockets. Earlier was the Day 1 and 2 leader and dropped back slightly because of Palaniuk's big Day 3. Keep in mind, Ehrler's Day 3 was 24-3 and he was overtaken by just 2 ounces so it's too close to call. His pattern has predominantly shallower this event than expected. He noted he didn't think he was on the winning fish necessarily, but a late-day 6 pounder on Day 3 helped him achieve a 24-pound bag.
Hank Cherry has possibly caught the most fish out of anyone in the field this week. The North Carolina angler is in the zone technique-wise as he has used a jerkbait efficiently. Fishing over and around the hydrilla on Sam Rayburn has helped Cherry dial in enough weight for 3rd place. He trails leader Brandon Palaniuk by 10 pounds, 4 ounces heading into Championship Sunday.
Jacob Wheeler only caught 16-5 on Day 3 and took a step back from being tight to the Top 2, but instead is now in 4th, 10-13 behind. Wheeler has fished shallow for the most part, flipping a jig into the brush and cover of Sam Rayburn. He has caught numerous fish in the morning as they have schooled in his area.
Jason Christie has relied solely on topwater this week as he has used numerous topwater frogs to get to 59-11 for 3 days. We've watched him on Bassmaster LIVE catch 4-pounders all week using a popping, walking and swimming frog thus far, but he hasn't been able to get above a 4 or 5 pounder so far. His weights have leveled out as 20-13, 18-5 and 20-9.